Future Edinburgh Airbnb lets could require planning permission

Property owners could need planning permission to turn some properties into Airbnb lets.

There are now more than 9000 Edinburgh properties advertised on Airbnb

Green MSP for the Lothians, Andy Wightman, tabled an amendment to the Planning Bill, currently going through the Scottish Parliament. He was successful in calling for property owners to be granted full planning consent in order to change a main residence into a short-term let property such as Airbnb.

It is thought the amendment will only apply to properties that are the owner’s main residence - rather than second homes. The amendment was tabled at Stage 2 of the bill, and is still to be considered by all MSPs.

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The City of Edinburgh Council is appealing for a licensing regime to be set up to ensure the minimum standards for short term lets - if permission was granted by the Scottish Government.

Under the council’s proposals, a licence would be needed for anyone either operating a property on a commercial or professional basis - or for at least 45 days a year. The rules would ensure any owners or operators were “fit and proper” and that certain safety standards were met.

The council also wants to be able to “control or otherwise cap the number of properties licensed across the local authority area or in specific areas of the local authority”.

Andy Wightman, Housing spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said: “With average house prices seven and a half times the average salary we must take every opportunity we can to help people afford to buy or rent a home. Giving local councils the power to buy land at existing use value rather than the inflated value caused by planning permission is an important tool in the box.

“A classic example is the Waterfront in Edinburgh where there are swathes of vacant land that have been allocated for housing for years. Developers have been biding their time while the land value rises and the city’s housing crisis worsens. This land should be available for the council to buy at its current value so it can get on with the job of building affordable housing for ownership and rent.

“We also know that the uncontrolled and rapid rise in short-term lets in our cities and our rural communities is depriving families and individuals of badly-needed long-term homes. I am pleased that the Minister has agreed to discuss this matter further as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”

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